The number of homeless people in West Hollywood is roughly twice what it was last year according to data gathered in L.A. County’s annual homeless count.
An on-the-street survey last night found 87 homeless people in WeHo. In 2015, the year that the biannual survey became an annual survey, there were 43 people. The figure was 45 in 2013. The data reflects the number of homeless people at a specific point in time and not an annual average.
The increase in homeless people supports the claims of local residents who have expressed concerns about the health and safety of those and also about the well being of residents who have experienced minor thefts, substance abuse and public nuisances by homeless people.
City Councilmember John D’Amico told WEHOville that he has asked the City Manager to put an emergency item on Monday’s City Council agenda that would allocate $500,000 to improve public safety in areas with large numbers of homeless people. That money would come from $2.2 million already allocated to the local Sheriff’s Station by the city that wasn’t spent last year.
“We now have enough facts to see what people are telling us,” D’Amico said. We have 100% more homeless people in our city than last year. I think it’s an emergency.”
D’Amico was speaking about complaints from local residents about break-ins by homeless people, defection on private and public property, drug use and prostitution. Roxanne McBryde, a resident of the city’s Eastside, described her neighborhood’s issues in detail in a recent opinion piece published by WEHOville.
“The numbers revealed in this homelessness count are vitally important,” said Mayor Lindsey Horvath. “This data fundamentally informs the city about where resources are most needed, and it empowers the city to respond in an effective manner in providing needed assistance to people in West Hollywood who are homeless.”
A press release from the city acknowledged that city’s Eastside, between Fairfax and La Brea avenues, is where most of the 87 homeless people are found. “The count demonstrated that there were 48 homeless people east of Fairfax Avenue within the city’s geographic municipal boundaries — 35 people were counted north of Santa Monica Boulevard; 13 people were tallied south of Santa Monica Boulevard. The majority of people counted were male individuals over the age of 25; no families or encampments were seen in the count.”
The survey was organized by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). Teams of volunteers, including City Councilmember Lauren Meister, were led last night by Sheriff’s deputies and employees of People Assisting the Homeless (P.A.T.H.) through all of the city’s 1.89 square miles.
A homeless count for all of L.A. County has not been made available. Last year the count was 44,000 people. “The city will work with LAHSA to determine whether the increase in West Hollywood’s tally is unique to the city, or if the numbers reflect a trend across the region,” said a city statement.
The city also said it was upping its response to the issue, “enhancing its current efforts with a focused street-outreach response with teams from PATH, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and the Friends Research Institute.”
West Hollywood works with LAHSA to connect people who are homeless to LAHSA’s winter shelter program, which provides pop-up walk-in shelter resources in various locations throughout the Los Angeles area. Homeless people can get access to these locations through various street-outreach teams, through the city’s Social Services Division, or by way of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station.
In addition, street outreach teams are proactively providing information about the city’s Winter shelter program and coordinating transportation or providing directions to the locations with bus tokens or transit passes.
West Hollywood contracts with P.A.T.H. for several services for the homeless:
• The city contracts with PATH for 10 shelter beds (among other services);
• The city participates in PATH’s hotel/motel voucher program, which is an emergency bed option for homeless community members in crisis after hours and on the weekends and includes transportation;
• The city has a partnership with the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which provides shelter and services for at-risk youth; and
• The city assists with connecting people to local alcohol and drug residential programs and transitional (sober) living facilities, which provide treatment, shelter, and wraparound services.
For people who are homeless in the community who decline offers of shelter, outreach teams provide other assistance such as food and hygiene kits, as well as blankets, socks, and other emergency supplies.
Other information about West Hollywood’s resources for homeless people is available on its website. including a downloadable document with comprehensive information about emergency shelter options.